I finally saw it happen. It’s like a sick twisted desire that had to be fulfilled, and I almost feel bad for even writing this, but yesterday on my way to have lunch I saw a bus get into an accident. It blows my mind to think that they don’t more often, and a friend of mine here confirmed to me that it does happen all the time, but I finally was witness to it. Luckily no one was hurt and the bus just hit a parked car. The amazing thing was there were no looks of horror or shocked faces. Business went on as usual. Hopefully that particular bus driver will learn not to try to take a city bus through a roundabout with the gas pedal stuck to the floor. Probably not though.
Now that I’ve properly scared everyone away from another blog post, I’ve got a ton of stuff to write about from down here in Rio de Janeiro. It’s been a few weeks since I’ve posted which I’m actually pretty unhappy with myself about, but unfortunately I’ve had a rough go of it lately with balancing school work, training, and having enough of a social life to not go out of my mind. For many of you that know me personally reading this, you know that I have always had (and most likely always will have) terrible sleeping problems. In the states I usually get to sleep between 3 and 4am. Here I’m averaging more around the 5 to 6am range. There isn’t really any explanation as to why other than the nights I’m working on homework, but at home this time is usually at least productive. I’m really working on getting this back on track though, as it’s taking up a lot of my day time and doesn’t make doing some of the fun things and/or writing about them here any easier.
I mentioned a bit ago that I actually have a little bit of a social life. I’m actually starting to hang out with more people outside of the house that are from here in Brasil. I still hang out with people that are living here at Connection Rio too of course, but it’s been nice to get out with people from the area and see how they live. Many of the guys here live a true “jiu-jitsu lifestyle”, as in they hit the beach, train, and get out on the weekends. That’s the lifestyle, and I absolutely love it. If it were sustainable money wise I can’t think of any other way I’d like to live out the next few years. A little more about my adventures with some of the guys from around here will be below.
One thing that’s interesting about living where I am for such a long period of time is that there is a pretty good turnover of people. I actually like this sort of transient lifestyle as you’re always meeting new people, and it’s cool to see the excitement of people first visiting here. It’s also fun to see the uncertainty in the little things, like ordering a meal or trying to figure out how they are going to get to a certain place or find a certain item. I don’t mean that in a bad way as I still struggle myself at times, but it almost gives me a feeling of accomplishment to know that I can actually get around. A girl the other day asked me how long I’ve been here, and mentioned that I seem really comfortable here for being a foreigner as far as these little things like ordering food or knowing where I’m going. I’m still learning and am nowhere near as proficient as I’d like to be, but when I sit back and think about it, I’m miles ahead of where I began.
I know I mentioned some adventures with people from around here, so I’ll get to that now. There are a couple new things I’ve experienced in the last few weeks, and it’s made my experience that much more interesting. Two things in particular I’ve been to were a Samba party and a baile funk party. Two guys from the academy, Rafael and Pablo were kind enough to take me out one night to a Samba party in Castelo. It was actually their first time at this particular party as well. The name of the place we went to translated out to the “Doctor’s Club” but I don’t think it was any sort of venue for medical professionals. I think they just have parties here. There was some great live music and it was a good atmosphere. The guys were a little disappointed with the turnout as far as girls were concerned. Disappointing here isn’t near the same as in the states where it’s 25 guys at a bar with 4 girls, but for Brasil the women were lacking a bit. Regardless of that fact, I still had a good time. I got to test out my Portuguese on a few women, and let’s just say I need to keep practicing. All in all it was a great experience though, and those guys are great to hang out with.
Next up is the baile funk party. I don’t know where to begin with this one. I actually went to one near where we live in the Barrinha area which I’ve heard is a little tame compared to the ones in Castelo or Gavea, but it was pretty crazy nonetheless. The best way I can describe this type of party is like a big outdoor club with loud music and dancing going on everywhere. There is the funk music which is similar to club music in the states, and the women go pretty crazy dancing. I’d like to just call it a huge party but it’s a different atmosphere than that. It was a great time, and I’m looking forward to visiting some of the other parties I’ve heard about. One interesting thing at this particular party was the decision to move from dance music to Linkin Park. When I say “move from” I literally mean they started playing only Linkin Park songs for about three tracks in a row. Amazingly, everyone in the place knew every word to every song yet none of the girls still could understand my English or broken Portuguese.
I probably make my interactions with the women here sound a lot worse than they really are. I mean, there is the whole not having any conversation with them, but it’s not like I’m getting dirty looks or totally ignored (every time I talk to a girl anyway). I definitely get a lot of smiles and inviting looks, but it’s more of a “if you knew Portuguese this could go somewhere” type feeling, not a “who cares about the language barrier let’s hookup anyway” one. I have one story in particular about this that is pretty funny. A couple of weeks ago I finally went out to my first nightclub here in Barra. We went to a place called “Nuth” (pronounced new-ch) which apparently is the best club in Barra. It is a pretty decent sized place and does get a nice crowd. I’ve actually been there twice since then, and I’ll admit that I do like the place although my bank account usually doesn’t agree.
Anyway, the first time I went pretty much everyone in the house went home that night other than myself and another girl here, Oda. We decided we were going out no matter what this night, and we definitely did it right. Leaving the club and walking out into pure daylight is always an interesting experience. Back to the point though, we had been talking to plenty of people around the club, and at one point I actually left Oda to go to the bathroom. When I came back she was preoccupied with some guy, so I decided it was time to meet some people. I found what I think was a bachelorette party and approached the first girl I saw. It’s funny, we were both wearing Chuck Taylors (pretty popular here for men and women much like the states), so the first thing that pops into my mind to say is “Hey, we’re wearing the same shoes”.
Let me explain the rationale behind this. It wasn’t a serious attempt at a pickup line. For one, there was about a 10% chance this girl actually would understand what I’m saying and two, if she actually did it might get a laugh out of her. Well, she did understand, and apparently she liked my shoes. If you didn’t know, in Brasil making out is the thing to do. It happens everywhere, and it’s pretty common almost like people grinding on each other in a dance club in the states. Apparently this girl thought my shoe comment was invitation for this ritual and proceeded to maul my face. The funny thing it goes on for a long time and seems pretty intense for public. A lot of times it seems to happen and then you just move on talking to the next person. Anyway, I felt like I needed a little redemption after slamming myself so much in my writing and to be a little more accurate so there it is. Actually I’m not sure if that helped my case or hurt it.
Moving on, one real cool part of the timing of my trip here is the beginning of filming the “Real Rio Show”. The show is actually a reality show based on the life of the athletes here at the Connection Rio house where I’m staying. It goes over our training, a little of our nightlife, and will be going over more things that we do while staying down here like the beach or say climbing the mountain behind our house. It’s just begun filiming, and I missed the first few days as I was busy with schoolwork, however the next part that is released tomorrow should have yours truly lighting up the screen. When I say “lighting up” I really mean getting smashed at jiu jitsu.
My first experience with the taping was a trip to the Novo Leblon academy. This is actually an academy inside some sort of condo community in Barra. There is a rec center with a mat area for judo and jiu jitsu. The training here was amazing. There were a ton of great jiu jitsu players. One in particular was a 17 year old blue belt who I believe was a world champion at that level. There of course were plenty of black, brown, and purple belts to smash us unlucky foreigners as well. One interesting dynamic of this academy was the fact that they really just didn’t let up. I was told they are more competition focused. Normally when a higher belt knows they are going to have their way with me they will submit me a few times and then let me work some positions, or try some low percentage stuff on me so I have a chance to survive. Here there was no such leniency. It was a tapfest. The thing is the guys weren’t doing it to prove some point, and they weren’t trying to show me up (easy enough to do anyway), it’s really just how they train here it seems.
So we did the filming there and then went over to Bar do Oswaldo for some more filming. It’s one of the first times I think we had everyone in the house out at once. We had a few drinks, I was buffalo’d (had to slam my full beer for drinking with my right hand) on camera, and then I headed out to the aforementioned samba party. There will be more filming this week, and I’ll link to the first two parts of the first episode below. I’m briefly in the second part for about 2 seconds, but that’s it until the next part comes out. I’ll definitely start posting the episodes to the blog so you can check them out as they are released.
As this is getting pretty long and I need to save some things to write about so I don’t go two more weeks without a post, I’ll finish up with some training news. First and foremost, I’m improving. That’s the important thing. I’ve been doing an average of about 5-6 classes a week which is probably on the low end of what I should be doing. This week it absolutely changes though, as I’m going to be competing for the first time in my jiu jitsu journey. I’m going to be doing the Brasiliero tournament in May. It’s a pretty big deal as this is the Brasilian national championship event. I’m real excited to compete, but I’d also be lying if I said I wasn’t a little intimidated to have my first competition an event as big as this. Win or lose though, I’m putting everything into the next month of training and the worst thing that comes out of this is my game improves by leaps and bounds and I’ll always have the experience of competing in Brasil. I’m doing a minimum of 8 classes per week, but the goal is two classes a day Monday through Friday which is easily doable. I also moved into a new room next to Manny and Mikko who always train two classes a day so that will be good for me as well.
That’s all for now, but this week I’ll need to do at least part one of a two part series of my training with Savate Brasil as well as post the new Real Rio episodes. For now though, you can head to www.realrioshow.com and check out the first two episodes. Also as a preview to the posts later this week, below is a picture with me and a few of the guys from Savate Brasil.